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Equalitylink April 2016


Welcome April 2016

Equality Challenge Unit works to further and support equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education across all four nations of the UK, and in colleges in Scotland.

Equalitylink is a monthly round-up of equality and diversity news, resources and ECU’s work with the sector.

Equality update

ECU’s national equality conference 2016

Save the date

Save the date in your diaries for ECU’s 2016 conference, which will take place on 29 and 30 November 2016, in Nottingham.

Built around the theme ‘Connect, collaborate, share: building the equality community in HE’, this year’s conference will focus on working together to share good practice across our equality and diversity practitioner community.

We will shortly be publishing further details and a call for papers.

The conference is open to everyone in the HE sector across the UK. ECU subscriber institutions will receive one free place. Additional places and places for HEIs in Scotland and Wales will be offered at reduced rates.

Call for change to Zellick guidelines

Change would allow HEIs to better handle sexual violence allegations

The Universities UK taskforce on violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students has called for a number of changes to university procedures in handling sexual violence allegations, and discussed ways of reducing harassment and hate crime on campus.

The taskforce calls for a review of the Zellick guidelines, which advise universities on how to handle cases where a student’s alleged misconduct could also constitute a criminal offence. The guidelines currently advise universities not to conduct their own investigations into allegations of sexual violence.

The taskforce also discussed the role centralised reporting, a zero tolerance approach and active bystander training could play in reducing harassment and hate crimes.

Taskforce calls for review of Zellick guidelines

Spotlight on gender equality

International women’s day

International women’s day (8 March 2016) encouraged the HE sector to look afresh at the lack of parity between men and women.

University and Colleges Union published a report highlighting colleges and universities that pay female staff significantly less than men who are doing the same job. Holding down women’s pay includes ‘league tables’ of universities with the largest pay gaps among academic staff, professors, academic-related staff and tables for lecturers in FE colleges.

ECU’s Ellen Pugh wrote a blog for WonkHE looking at where women work in HE, the progress the sector has made in increasing women’s representation, and what more can be done to break the glass ceiling.

HEFCE equality and diversity statement

Objectives set for 2016-17

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has published new equality and diversity objectives setting out the legal and policy context for HEFCE’s equality and diversity work, their rationale and approach, and objectives for the next two years.

Part of HEFCE’s approach to meeting these objectives includes committing to work in partnership with ECU and other sector bodies.

HEFCE intends to publish an action plan to accompany the objectives in April.

HEFCE equality and diversity statement and objectives 2016-17

Race equality framework for Scotland


The Scottish Government has published its approach to promoting race equality and tackling racism and inequality between 2016-2030. The Race equality framework for Scotland 2016-2030 will take ‘a long-term, partnership based approach’.

The government goes on to say that ‘Every individual and organisation in Scotland needs to play their role in creating a fair and equal Scotland that protects and includes people from all background, whatever their ethnicity may be.’

For further and higher education, this includes:

  • using outcome agreements to tackle issues of participation and success
  • ensuring minority ethnic communities are proportionately represented across HE and FE and experience positive outcomes in completing courses
  • ensuring careers guidance and employability aids transition from education to the labour market

The Race equality framework for Scotland 2016-2030

Guardian University awards

Equality initiatives celebrated

Congratulations to the winners and runners up in the equality categories of Guardian University Awards 2016, held on 16 March 2016. ECU’s chief executive David Ruebain sat on the judging panel for these awards.

Swansea University received the award for advancing staff equality for their work on the gender gap in university job roles and development opportunities for facilities management staff. University of Leicester were the runners up in this category.

Advancing staff equality winners .

Goldsmiths, University of London took the top prize for student diversity, with their Open Book programme which supports people from non-traditional backgrounds including people who have a history of offending, addiction and or mental health issues, as well as those who have never considered further and higher education. Kings College London and the University of Winchester were runners up.

Student diversity winners

Our work

Our subscriber support programme 2016

Working with you to further equality in HE

This year ECU has embarked upon our first year as a subscription organisation in England and Northern Ireland.

We have set out our activities and our priorities for our subscribers and HEIs we are funded to work with in our Subscriber support programme 2016.

The programme outlines our upcoming work, activities to support you and our promises to you on the service you can expect.

Ethnicity in admissions data

A guide to accessing UCAS ethnicity data on undergraduate applicants

ECU has been working with UCAS to clarify what ethnicity data is available for HEIs on their student admissions across a number of data sets.

As part of this, UCAS has developed an informative briefing outlining the relevant data and how to access it, free of charge.

The data will be of use if your institution is applying for ECU’s Race Equality Charter, if you are seeking to address underrepresentation of minority ethnic groups or if you want to understand how ethnicity impacts on your admissions.

Ethnicity in admissions data

ASSET 2016

Survey on gender equality in STEMM is now live

The fourth Athena Survey of Science, Engineering and Technology was launched on 4 April 2016. Fifty-two HEIs have been selected to take part, and the Athena SWAN contact in each will be circulating details to all staff in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine disciplines shortly.

ASSET 2016 seeks to examine STEMM academics’ experiences, expectations and perceptions of gender equality in their respective disciplines and in their higher education institution, from the recruitment process through to leadership.

Gender equality in the higher education sector, and particularly within STEMM subjects, remains a pressing concern, so we ask that you join us in supporting this important work and take some time to fill the survey if your HEI has been selected.

ASSET 2016 is managed by ECU and funded by the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Biology and the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Is your institution taking part?

Athena SWAN contacts at selected institutions have been emailed with details. If you have received this email on behalf of your institution but have not yet confirmed that you will be participating, please contact Jamie Lawson, ECU researcher, as soon as possible.

Find out more about ASSET 2016.

REF 2014

Response to Lord Stern’s review

ECU has responded to the current review of the Research Excellence Framework 2014, specifically regarding the equality requirements that were embedded into the process.

We believe that the equality and diversity requirements were successful in increasing the numbers of women, early careers researchers and those with equality-related circumstances, submitted to the REF.

However, there continue to be disparities in submission rates by different protected groups, and we believe that this can be improved by maintaining the focus on equality and diversity.

Read the full consultation response.

Working with EHRC

Guidance on the Prevent duty

As announced in the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s business plan for 2016/17, ECU will be working with the Commission to produce joint guidance for HEIs in England on the interplay of the Prevent duty, the public sector equality duty, the Human Rights Act and the duty on HEIs to promote academic freedom and freedom of speech.

It aims to provide practical guidance on how to comply with these duties and obligations including good practice examples and case studies.

EHRC business plan 2016/17

Get involved

Join the team: Equality Charters Adviser

Supporting Athena SWAN

We are seeking to recruit an Equality Charters adviser to support ECU’s Athena SWAN Charter in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Come and join our team dedicated to making a difference to equality in higher education.

Opportunities to join the team

Closing date: 12.00, Wednesday 20 April 2016.

Resources and support

Equality and diversity in learning and teaching in HE

Compendium of papers

For the past two years ECU and the Higher Education Academy have held joint conferences in Scotland to share practice and learning, and to develop ideas on equality and diversity in learning and teaching in higher education.

Nine papers were developed from a selection of the workshops and papers delivered at the conferences for publication in this compendium.

The compendium presents research findings, case studies and recommendations that are intended to be used by institutions and academics for the development of practices, processes and regimes that can support all students in their learning journeys.

Equality and diversity in learning and teaching: Compendium of papers

Intersectionality in Scottish HEIs

Examining socioeconomic status and protected characteristics

The higher education sector recognises the importance of intersectionality and the complexities of discrimination arising from the links between socioeconomic background and equality.

This new ECU report examines some of the specific intersections of identities within the population of Scottish domiciled entrants at Scottish higher education institutions.

Socioeconomic status is examined in combination with the protected characteristics of age, disability, ethnicity and gender to understand the potential impact combinations of these factors have on access and participation.

Intersectionality in Scottish HEIs

Attracting diversity case studies

Making a start on tackling student underrepresentation

HEIs across the country and colleges in Scotland are being asked to prioritise widening access and increasing student diversity across a range of equality characteristics and socioeconomic backgrounds.

We’ve published case studies from four institutions in Scotland who took part a pilot programme of support that has been developed into our Attracting and increasing diversity projects.

The case studies give details of the first steps the institutions have taken to tackle underrepresentation of students in specific subjects.

Attracting and increasing student diversity case studies


Share your events with us on Twitter:@EqualityinHE

Drivers for change

20 April 2016, Brunel University, London

This conference will provide insight into contemporary issues of importance in the field of equality and diversity from a number of perspectives and explores the impact that new evidence may have in informing change.

Issues that will be explored include:

  • Gender and nationality bias in building teams
  • Work placement experiences of students with disabilities
  • Council housing policies
  • Loneliness and experiences of old age
  • The impact of science interventions for girls
  • Gender and sexuality in relation to identities and inequalities in children and young people

To register, email Jean Meehan.

Inclusive engineering education symposium

21-22 April 2016, UCL Centre for Engineering, London

A symposium on inclusive engineering education asking how, in striving to create more diverse student populations, are we making sure that the learning environment is evolving to be responsive to people’s more diverse backgrounds.

Research, case studies and experiences will be presented and discussed with the aim of helping to raise the standards and experiences in engineering programmes.

Inclusive engineering education symposium

Make it happen: women in STEM lecture

29 April 2016, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool

Chi Onwurah MP, shadow minister for culture and the digital economy, will be talking on the theme ‘Make it happen’ for the third lecture in this popular series run by Liverpool John Moores University.

LJMU Women in STEM

Heidi Plus training for equality practitioners

April and May 2016, various locations

HESA, the Higher Education Statistics Agency, has developed dedicated Heidi Plus training for equality practitioners.

The one day IT-based course will provide colleagues with comprehensive training on using this new system and how to best analyse the equality data within it, how to generate reports, and how the system can support your work with Athena SWAN.

*New date added*

Find out more about Heidi Plus

Tackling violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students

19 April, London

Universities UK event updating the sector on the work of their taskforce to address violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting students.

Tackling violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students

Introduction to ECU’s Race Equality Charter

13 May 2016, Manchester

Thinking of joining ECU’s Race Equality Charter? Get the inside track at our sessions introducing the charter and outlining everything you need to know to get started.

Introducing ECU’s Race Equality Charter

Progressing equality and diversity in Scottish further and higher education

26 April 2016, Glasgow

*Limited places still available*

This conference aims to set the scene in relation to progress on equality and diversity across Scotland, and to provide a platform to celebrate and disseminate the great work that is underway to progress equality and diversity in Scottish colleges and higher education institutions from across the UK.

Progressing equality and diversity

Closing the gap: research and practice on BME student attainment

27 June 2016, University of Kent, Canterbury Campus

A one-day conference hosted by the Student Success (EDI) project to explore how to inspire, support and share excellent practice in closing the attainment gap between white and Black and minority ethnic students.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Professor Leon Tikly, University of Bristol
  • Professor Kalwant Bhopal, University of Southampton
  • Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Office for Fair Access

Closing the gap

If you would like your event to be featured on our website and the next issue of Equalitylink, please email details to Gemma Instrall, Engagement Manager.